Pangandaran National Park

Well worth exploring

Photo of , , Pangandaran

What we say: 4 stars

The Pangandaran National Park, known as Taman Nasional Pangandaran in Indonesian, is a large expanse of jungle on the southern peninsula of Pangandaran measuring approximately three kilometres long by 1.5 kilometres wide.

The forest is home to a great array of wildlife such as macaque monkeys, black monkeys, bats, porcupines, butterflies, massive lizards and deer. Seven distinct groups of macaques inhabit the forest, each with around 65 individuals. These monkeys are the most likely of all the wildlife to be encountered as they are not shy – on the contrary they are likely to steal items from you if they are in the mood. The large black monkeys however are extremely shy and almost impossible to find without the help of one of the park's experienced guides. The monitor lizards in the park are not always seen as they are quick to scamper away when noisy tourists tramp through the forest. However, we can attest to the fact that some of these specimens are massive and easily as big as an adult human and have been seen devouring unfortunate monkeys.

In the park there is a large cave which requires the use of a torch to explore; local guides are happy to rent a torch to you if you are able to find the cave entrance. Otherwise, this is a common stop on a guided trip through the forest. Inside the cave live a couple of large porcupines which guides are happy to point out. The cave is best located by using the eastern entrance to the park and following the pathway.

Guided tours of the forest usually include a location famous for an abundance of butterflies. It's an amazing experience to stand in the middle of a swarm of butterflies with the silence only broken by the sound of the occasional bird or insect.

There are a handful of beaches inside the national park which are also worth checking out. The most popular is Pantai Pasir Putih or White Sand Beach, located along a well-trodden path along from the western entrance to park.

Many visitors to Pangandaran talk of elephants residing in the national park. We asked about this and were told that the elephants were removed between 2007 and 2009 due to the destruction they were wreaking on the forest, but rumours persist.

We recommend hiring a guide for a short two-hour stroll through the forest for around 100,000 rupiah after negotiation. You'll see much more this way. Guides can be found via the ticket booths at the entrances to the park.

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